Experiences of addiction, treatment and recovery: An online resource for members of the public, health professionals and policy makers

This project is the first of its kind in Australia and around the world. Funded by the Australian Research Council (2014-17), it will collect and analyse the personal accounts of people who describe themselves as having an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit, and present these (anonymised) accounts in textual, audio and re-enacted video form on a publicly accessible website. Entitled Lives of Substance, this website will be launched late 2016, and introduced by Kate Holden, author of Australian drug use memoir, In My Skin.

The aim of the study and the website is to generate and present much-needed new insights into the range of experiences that make up life for people who consider themselves to have an addiction, dependence or drug habit. How do people manage this aspect of their lives? How do they cope with the stigma associated with addiction? What kind of help do they seek, where necessary? What do ideas of well-being or recovery mean to them? What resources are important to them? The resulting website will be available for training, information and public awareness purposes.

The project investigator team comprises:

  • Professor Suzanne Fraser (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic (School of Social Sciences, Monash University)
  • Professor David Moore (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Professor Carla Treloar (Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales)
  • Dr Adrian Dunlop (Hunter New England Local Health District)

Research staff

  • Dr Kiran Pienaar (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne (School of Social Sciences, Monash University)

The project advisory panel comprises:

  • Ms Nicky Bath (Formerly Chief Executive Officer, NSW Users and AIDS Association)
  • Ms Colleen Blums (President, Drug and Alcohol Nurses Australasia)
  • Mr Danny Jeffcote (Program Manager AOD Response West, cohealth)
  • Ms Debbie Kaplan (Manager, Clinical Policy, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Centre for Population Health, NSW Ministry of Health)
  • Ms Anna Keato (Senior Policy Officer, Prevention Policy and Research, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Ms Jenny Kelsall (Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria)
  • Ms Edita Kennedy (Project Worker, Association of Participating Service Users)
  • Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch (Executive Officer, Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association and Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong)
  • Mr Brad Pearce (Formerly Program Manager, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association)
  • Ms Julie Rae (Head of Information and Research, Alcohol and Drug Foundation)
  • Professor Ann Roche (Director, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University)
  • Mr Robert Stirling (Deputy CEO, Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies)

In addition to the advisory panel, we have also established an online research community on the Google Plus platform. This group functions as a broader community of advice for the project. If you’re interested in participating in this community, please contact: kiran.pienaar at curtin.edu.au